Blog Feed

Report on the Judicial Audit Conducted in RTC Branches 29, 56 & 57, Libmanan, Camarines Sur, A.M. No. 98-1-11-RTC, October 7, 1999

Facts: In view of the compulsory retirement of Judge Salvador G. Cajot, Presiding Judge of the Regional Trial Court, Branch 29, Libmanan, Camarines Sur, the Office of the Court Administrator conducted an audit of cases filed with three branches of the RTC, and as a result, the Court required Judge Cajot to explain his failure to resolve Civil Case Nos. L-446 and L-795 within the reglementary period. Judge Cajot explains that while the respondents in Civil Case No. L-446 have made an offer of their evidence, he did not act on the same to give the petitioners the opportunity to submit their comment or object to avoid admitting inadmissible evidence. He then cites the responsibility of the respondents to call his attention to the lack of ruling on their offer of evidence and the duty of the petitioners to submit their comment or objection.

Issue: Whether or not Judge Cajot was proper in withholding ruling on Civil Case No. L-446 pending the submission of the comments or objections by the petitioners.

Held: No. Under Article VIII, Section 15(1) of the 1987 Philippine Constitution, the lower courts have 3 months within which to decide cases or resolve matters submitted to them. Likewise, the Code of Judicial Conduct, under Canon 3, Rule 3.05 enjoins judges to dispose of their businesses promptly and decide cases within the required periods. The explanation of Judge Cajot on his failure to resolve Civil Case No. L-446 and L-975 cannot be accepted by the Supreme Court because Section 36 of Rule 132 of the Rules on Evidence provides that “an offer of evidence in writing shall be objected to within three (3) days after notice of the offer unless a different period is allowed by the Court.” and Section 38 of Rule 132 of the Rules on Evidence states that a resolution must be given immediately after the objection is made, unless the court desires to take reasonable time to inform itself on the question presented, which fact did not appear in the case. Judge Cajot did not seem to have allowed the petitioners a longer period within which to submit a comment or raise an objection on the evidence of the petitioners; therefore, he should have made his resolution 3 days after the presentation of the evidence in view of the absence of any objections or comments from the petitioners.

People v. Boras, G.R. No. 127495, December 22, 2000

Facts: Boras was convicted by the Regional Trial Court of Camarines Sur for allegedly raping Melanie Medalla, a six-year old neighbor of his. On December 13, 1991, Boras invited Medalla to come with him, and since Medalla knew who Boras was, being their neighbor, she went with him to a guava tree 15 meters away from her home. Upon reaching the place, Boras told Medalla that they will have sex, and thereafter, he was able to satisfy his carnal knowledge on Medalla. Suddenly, Medalla’s uncle saw the rape of her niece and informed the brother-in-law of Boras. During the trial, the prosecution offered the photocopy of the birth certificate of Medalla to prove that she was under twelve years old during December 13, 1991, because in statutory rape, the prosecution has to prove that the accused had carnal knowledge of the victim and that the victim is below twelve years old. The photocopy of the birth certificate was admitted by the court.

Issue: Whether or not the photocopy of the birth certificate of Medalla was properly admitted.

Held: Yes. Under Section 36, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court, objection to evidence offered orally must be made immediately after the offer is made. The photocopy of the birth certificate was formally offered by the prosecution to prove the fact of birth and the fact of age of Medalla. What the defense objected to was the purpose for which the photocopy of the birth certificate was offered and not to the presentation of the same as a secondary evidence. Therefore, having failed to raise a valid and timely objection against the presentation of the photocopy, the same became a primary evidence and is admitted and binding on the parties.

Chan v. Chan, G.R. No. 179786, July 24, 2013

Facts:

Petitioner Josielene Lara Chan (Josielene) filed before the Regional Trial Court (RTC) of Makati City, a petition for the declaration of nullity of her marriage to respondent Johnny Chan (Johnny), the dissolution of their conjugal partnership of gains, and the award of custody of their children to her. Josielene claimed that Johnny failed to care for and support his family and that a psychiatrist diagnosed him as mentally deficient due to incessant drinking and excessive use of prohibited drugs. Indeed, she had convinced him to undergo hospital confinement for detoxification and rehabilitation.

Johnny resisted the action, claiming that it was Josielene who failed in her wifely duties. To save their marriage, he agreed to marriage counseling but when he and Josielene got to the hospital, two men forcibly held him by both arms while another gave him an injection. Their relationship got worse when the police temporarily detained Josielene for an unrelated crime and released her only after the case against her ended. By then, their marriage relationship could no longer be repaired.

During the pre-trial conference, Josielene pre-marked the Philhealth Claim Form1 that Johnny attached to his answer as proof that he was forcibly confined at the rehabilitation unit of a hospital. The form carried a physician’s handwritten note that Johnny suffered from “methamphetamine and alcohol abuse.

Josielene filed with the RTC a request for the issuance of a subpoena duces tecum addressed to Medical City, covering Johnny’s medical records when he was there confined. The request was accompanied by a motion to “be allowed to submit in evidence” the records sought by subpoena duces tecum.

Johnny opposed the motion, arguing that the medical records were covered by physician-patient privilege. The RTC sustained the opposition and denied Josielene’s motion. It also denied her motion for reconsideration, prompting her to file a special civil action of certiorari before the Court of Appeals (CA) in CA-G.R. SP 97913, imputing grave abuse of discretion to the RTC.
 

The CA denied Josielene’s petition. It ruled that, if courts were to allow the production of medical records, then patients would be left with no assurance that whatever relevant disclosures they may have made to their physicians would be kept confidential. The prohibition covers not only testimonies, but also affidavits, certificates, and pertinent hospital records. The CA added that, although Johnny can waive the privilege, he did not do so in this case. He attached the Philhealth form to his answer for the limited purpose of showing his alleged forcible confinement.

Issue:

Whether or not the request of subpoena duces tecum,  accompanied by a motion that the records sought by the order be “submitted in evidence,” is proper.

Ruling:

No. Josielene’s request for subpoena duces tecum is premature. She will have to wait for trial to begin before making a request for the issuance of a subpoena duces tecum covering Johnny’s hospital records. It is when those records are produced for examination at the trial, that Johnny may opt to object, not just to their admission in evidence, but more so to their disclosure.


Section 36, Rule 132, states that objections to evidence must be made after the offer of such evidence for admission in court. Thus:

SEC. 36. Objection.— Objection to evidence offered orally must be made immediately after the offer is made.

Objection to a question propounded in the course of the oral examination of a witness shall be made as soon as the grounds therefor shall become reasonably apparent.

An offer of evidence in writing shall be objected to within three (3) days after notice of the offer unless a different period is allowed by the court.

In any case, the grounds for the objections must be specified.

People v. Mendoza, G.R. No. 180501, December 24, 2008

Facts:

A case was filed against Roger Mendoza accusing him of raping a 6-year old girl, AAA.

During trial, the prosecution presented AAA and both her parents as witnesses. Accused-appellant appeared as the lone witness for the defense.

The gist of AAA’s account of the incident is as follows: It occurred in the early afternoon of April 25, 2000 after her parents had left for work. At home with her on that day was the maid and accused-appellant, who was reapplying as family driver. As she was playing with the water hose in the garage, her dress got wet forcing her to repair to her room to change. Accused-appellant followed. Once inside the room, accused-appellant tried to undress her, tightly held her hands, and told her to lie in the bed. He thereupon pulled her panties down. In reaction, she pulled it up but accused-appellant quickly pulled it down again. It was at this moment when, according to AAA, accused-appellant touched her vagina with his fingers and kissed her on the left cheek. All the while, he repeatedly assured her of being her friend and that they were just playing the mother-and-father roles. Shortly after, she ran to her parents room and locked the door. Accused-appellant followed but left after AAA ignored his insistence to continue with the father-mother game.

Later in the evening, AAA told her parents about her ordeal, after which they reported the matter to barangay officials and the police. AAA was then asked to undergo a medical examination.

In the course of her direct examination,  a sketch of a female body was presented to her to assist her in pointing out the specific part of her body which was allegedly touched by the accused-appellant. In response, she shaded the area in between the legs of the female figure.

AAA’s father testified that accused-appellant first applied as a driver in 1995. He came back to reapply on April 24, 2000, was asked to drive on that day, and stayed for the night. The following morning, her father left early for work leaving the still sleeping applicant behind.

The father narrated what his daughter disclosed when he arrived home from work, adding that, when he routinely called the house at about 3:00 in the afternoon, the answering AAA called accused-appellant bastos and explained why so.

AAA’s mother corroborated for the most part her husband’s testimony. She attested that AAA was only six years old when it happened.

Testifying in his defense, accused-appellant admitted to being at AAA’s family home on April 24, 2000 and staying overnight. He remained in the house the following day waiting for AAA’s father to return so he could collect what he earned for a day’s work. To while his time away, he went outside to watch and talk to persons doing road repair work. And while outside, he suddenly felt water falling upon him. As it turned out, AAA was playing in the yard with the water hose aimed at him, which he did not mind.She continued to play with the hose and ended up flooding the garage. Thereafter, he asked the road workers about the possibility of working with them only to be told he would need a barangay clearance. He then left, returning a few days later to submit his clearance to the workers foreperson and to collect his one-day salary. According to accused-appellant, AAA’s father was so angry at him for not waiting last April 25, 2000 that he pushed accused-appellant and banged his head against the garage wall. After AAAs mother pacified her irate husband, barangay officials arrived and brought accused-appellant to the police station. Once there, accused-appellant was charged with molesting AAA, who, however, did not say anything at the police station; it was her mother who answered all the questions of the police investigator. He was charged with fingering the sexual organ of AAA. He denied the accusation, asserting that he did not touch the child, being outside their house on the day in question watching men doing road repair work.
On October 27, 2004, the RTC rendered judgment finding accused-appellant guilty of rape.

Accused-appellant appealed to the CA. Before the appellate court, accused-appellant raised the issue that the trial court committed error in considering the prosecution’s testimonial evidence which was not formally offered

He claims that her testimony was only offered for the purpose of establishing her minority not to establish the fact of molestation. The trial court, he says, supposedly erred in considering evidence which did not conform to the purpose specified in the offer, in accordance with Section 34 of Rule 132 of the Rules of Court.

The CA modified the RTC’s decision, the modification consisting of downgrading the crime to and finding accused-appellant guilty of acts of lasciviousness.

ISSUE:

Whether or not the trial court erred in considering the testimonial evidence of the prosecution not formally offered.

Ruling:

No. The objection to prosecution’s defective offer of evidence is already waived.

Accused-appellant posture is valid to a point. But despite the improper formal offer of AAA’s testimony, the defense failed to make a timely objection to the presentation of such testimonial evidence. Accused-appellant in fact proceeded with the trial of the case and, as the CA noted, even subjected the witness to a rigorous cross-examination. The unyielding rule is that evidence not objected to may be deemed admitted and be validly considered by the court in arriving at its judgment. In point is People v. Sanchez, in which the prosecution called several persons to testify. No formal offer of testimonial evidence was made prior to or after their testimonies. The trial court, nonetheless, considered the testimonies owing to the adverse partys failure to object to the presentation of such testimonial evidence. The Court sustained the trial court, reproducing what it earlier said in People v. Java:

x x x Section 36 [of Rule 132 of the Rules of Court[22]] requires that an objection in the course of the oral examination of a witness should be made as soon as the grounds [therefor] shall become reasonably apparent. Since no objection to the admissibility of evidence was made in the court below, an objection raised for the first time on appeal shall not be considered.

Accused-appellant’s belated invocation of the strict application of the rules on evidence to suit his purpose is quite misplaced, for evidence not objected to, AAA’s testimony in this case, becomes the property of the case, and all the parties to the case are considered amenable to any favorable or unfavorable effects resulting from the evidence.

Roger Mendoza was found guilty of acts of lasciviousness.

Rodson Philippines, Inc., v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 141857, June 9, 2004

FACTS:

On July 19, 1990, petitioners Rodson Philippines, Inc., Eurasia Heavy Industries, Inc., Autographics, Inc. and Peter Y. Rodriguez, filed a Complaint[2] for damages against respondent Eastar Resources (Asia) Corporation with the Regional Trial Court of Cebu City, Branch 7, then presided by Judge Generoso A. Juaban. The case was docketed as Civil Case No. CEB-9224.

After the presentation of Peter Y. Rodriguez and Yolanda Lua as witnesses, the petitioners filed their formal offer of evidence on September 3, 1993. The petitioners rested their case after their documentary evidence was admitted by the court. The respondent then presented one witness, Mary C. Maquilan. On March 29, 1994, the respondent prayed for time to make their formal offer of evidence. The court granted the respondents motion and gave it a period of fifteen (15) days to do so. The court then granted the petitioners a period of ten (10) days from service of the said formal offer within which to file their comment thereon.

The petitioners declared in open court that they would be presenting rebuttal evidence, and prayed that the hearing for the said purpose be set at 9:00 a.m. of May 4, 1994.[4] The case was reset to June 1, 1994.

The petitioners changed their original counsel and retained a new one, Atty. Purita Hontanosas-Cortes, the sister of their original counsel.[5]

In the meantime, the respondent filed its formal offer of evidence and sent a copy thereof to the petitioners on June 1, 1994. When the case was called for the presentation of the petitioners rebuttal evidence on the said date, the new counsel for the petitioners manifested her desire to recall the respondents witness, Mary Maquilan, for further cross-examination. She reasoned that she was not satisfied with the cross-examination of the previous counsel, and asked for time to file the necessary motion. The court granted the same, and gave her fifteen (15) days to do so. The court also gave the respondent a period of ten (10) days from receipt thereof within which to file its comment or opposition. The court held in abeyance the resolution of the respondents formal offer of evidence until such time that the petitioners motion to recall Maquilan for further cross-examination was resolved. On June 24, 1994, the petitioners filed their motion to recall Maquilan as a witness for further cross-examination.[6]

In the meantime, Judge Juaban retired from the government service. Acting Presiding Judge Andres C. Garalza, Jr. issued an order giving the respondent a final period of seven (7) days from notice within which to file its written comment on the petitioners motion to recall Maquilan.[7]

Thereafter, Judge Martin A. Ocampo was appointed presiding judge of the RTC of Cebu City, Branch 7. The hearing of the petitioners motion to recall the witness was set for hearing on March 26, 1996. During the hearing, the counsel for the petitioners called the attention of the court to the fact that they had not yet filed their comment on the respondents formal offer of evidence because of the pending incident. The court, for its part, declared that a formal offer of evidence was premature, precisely because of such pending incident. 

After the hearing, the court issued an order denying the petitioners motion to recall Maquilan as witness for additional cross-examination, without prejudice to the petitioners recalling the latter as a hostile witness on the presentation of its rebuttal evidence.

In the meantime, the petitioners failed to file their comment on the respondents formal offer of evidence. The court, likewise, failed to resolve the said incident despite the denial of the petitioners motion to recall Maquilan for additional cross-examination.

On April 1, 1996, the trial court sent a subpoena ad testificandum to Maquilan, requiring her to appear before the court and to testify as a hostile rebuttal witness for the petitioners at 9:00 a.m. on June 17 and 18, 1996. The respondent filed its urgent motion to quash the subpoena on the ground that the witness was a resident of Quezon City, which was more than fifty (50) kilometers away and, as such, could not be compelled to testify under Section 9 of Rule 23 of the Revised Rules of Court.[9]

During the hearing on June 17, 1996, the trial court expressed doubts as to whether it could compel Maquilan to appear before the court, considering that she was a resident of Quezon City which is more than fifty (50) kilometers from the venue of trial.[10]

Because of the adverse rulings they had been receiving from the trial court, the petitioners manifested that they would file a motion to inhibit the judge from further hearing the case, and to have the case re-raffled to another branch. The court welcomed such motion, if only to put the petitioners mind at rest.[11]

In its Order[12] dated August 19, 1996, Judge Martin A. Ocampo inhibited himself from further hearing the case and ordered the transmittal of the records of the case to the Office of the Executive Judge for re-raffle.

The case was re-raffled to the RTC of Cebu City, Branch 11, presided by Judge Isaias P. Dicdican. After a review of the records, the trial court discovered that the petitioners motion to recall Mary Maquilan had already been denied; that the petitioners had not yet filed their comment on the respondents formal offer of documentary evidence; and, that the said formal offer of evidence had not yet been resolved by the court. On July 17, 1997, the trial court issued an Order[13] admitting the respondents documentary evidence for the purposes they were offered.The court also set the continuation of the trial for the presentation of the petitioners rebuttal evidence to 8:30 a.m. of August 27, 1997.[14]

On August 25, 1997, the petitioners filed a Motion to Defer the Hearing Set on August 27, 1997,[15] and prayed that they be given a chance to file their written objection to the formal offer of evidence filed by the respondent. The trial court denied the motion, per its Order dated August 27, 1997. The trial court ruled that the ten-day period given to the petitioners per its Order of March 29, 1994 had long since elapsed. It emphasized that the order holding in abeyance its ruling on the respondents formal offer of evidence did not toll the ten-day period for the filing of the petitioners comment thereon.

The petitioners filed a motion for the reconsideration of the order. The trial court denied the said motion in an Order dated October 29, 1997.

The petitioners, thereafter, filed a petition for certiorari[16] and prohibition with the Court of Appeals, assailing the orders of the RTC, with a prayer for the issuance of a restraining order directing the public respondent RTC to refrain from proceeding with the scheduled hearing of the case and other subsequent settings thereof. 

ISSUE:

WHETHER OR NOT PUBLIC RESPONDENT COMMITTED GRAVE ABUSE OF DISCRETION AMOUNTING TO LACK OR EXCESS OF JURISDICTION WHEN HE ISSUED THE THREE QUESTIONED ORDERS OF JULY 17, 1997, AUGUST 27, 1997 AND OCTOBER 29, 1997 DENYING PETITIONERS AN OPPORTUNITY TO FILE THEIR OBJECTIONS/COMMENT TO PRIVATE RESPONDENTS VOLUMINOUS FORMAL OFFER OF EVIDENCE?

RULING:

We join the Court of Appeals in ruling that the trial court did not commit a grave abuse of its discretion amounting to excess of or without jurisdiction in issuing the assailed orders. 

 Irrefragably, the petitioners had until June 12, 1994 within which to file their comment on the respondents formal offer of evidence. The ten-day period within which to file such comment was not suspended by the filing and, thereafter, the pendency of the petitioners motion to recall Maquilan as a witness for additional cross-examination. What was merely suspended by such motion was the trial courts resolution of the respondents formal offer of evidence. The petitioners failed to file their comment within the period therefor.

Indeed, Judge Martin Ocampo erred in declaring that the respondents formal offer of evidence was prematurely filed, and that the petitioners need not yet file their comment thereon because of the petitioners unresolved motion. The respondent had already presented its lone witness, Maquilan, who already testified on direct and cross-examination. Hence, the respondent was obliged to formally offer its documentary evidence as provided by Section 35, Rule 132 of the Revised Rules on Evidence:

SEC. 35. When to make offer. As regards the testimony of a witness, the offer must be made at the time the witness is called to testify.

Documentary and object evidence shall be offered after the presentation of a partys testimonial evidence. Such offer shall be done orally unless allowed by the court to be done in writing.

Assuming for the nonce that the petitioners believed in good faith the declaration of Judge Ocampo that they could file their comment after the trial court had resolved their pending motion to recall Maquilan for further cross-examination, the records show that the court denied the said motion on March 26, 1996. It then behooved the petitioners to file their comment on the respondents formal offer of evidence after receipt of the said order, or soon thereafter. The petitioners failed to do so. It was only, after receiving the trial courts Order dated July 17, 1997, admitting the documentary evidence of the respondent, after the lapse of more than one year that the petitioners awakened and complained of having been deprived of their right to file their comment on such formal offer of evidence. Even then, the petitioners could have filed a motion for the reconsideration, appending thereto their comment/opposition to the respondents documentary evidence. The petitioners did not do so. If they had appended such opposition to their motion for reconsideration, the trial court could have reviewed the same, and, thereafter, even reconsider its July 17, 1997 Order. A denial thereon could then have been raised before the Court of Appeals, as the appellate court would be able to determine whether or not the trial court, in denying such motion for reconsideration, committed a grave abuse of its discretion.

People v. Dequito, G.R. No. 132544, May 12, 2000

FACTS:

Sometime in July 1996, Ireneo asked Analiza to help him pile coconuts at the plantation of Villarama at Barangay Montes Balaon. She initially refused but later on changed her mind. After working, Ireneo invited her to rest on a nearby rock. While resting, Ireneo tried to remove her clothes. Analiza ran away and Ireneo chased and caught her. She resisted his advances until she became weak. Ireneo succeeded in taking off her garments. He then undressed, held her hands and performed coitus. Analiza felt pain and bled. After Ireneo satisfied his lust, he warned Analiza that he would abandon her sister if the incident would come to the latters knowledge. He went home. Afterwards, Analiza followed.[4] She related her ordeal to Marilou Benitez, her close acquaintance.

On cross-examination, Analiza clarified that Ireneo raped her on the first and last week of July 1996. When the second rape transpired, they were making copra with her brothers who were two years old and four years old while Analyn remained in their house.[5]

On September 2, 1996, Analiza accompanied by her aunt, Margarita Legaspi, reported the incident to the authorities. She executed a statement[6] and underwent a physical examination at the Doa Marta Memorial Hospital. Dr. Cheres A. Daquilanea examined her perineal area and found hymenal lacerations at 11 oclock, 1 oclock and 5 oclock positions.[7]

Appellant presented a different version. He alleged that when he worked on the land of Villarama[8] and Escritor[9] in the month of July 1996, he was with Analiza, Normelita Quezada, Jaime Querante, Analyn, Boknoy and Dopong. Analiza, together with her younger brothers, joined him only on July 15. They finished working on the land of Escritor on July 24, 1996. On August 19, 1996, he made copra on the land of Villarama. Only Analyn was with him as Analiza took care of her brothers at home. In September 1996, Analiza left their home.

Appellant and Analyn sought and found Analiza in the house of her aunt, Margarita Legaspi. Appellant inquired why she left. Analiza replied that she wanted to get married but she was no longer a virgin. She said she was deflowered by a relative.[10]

On September 5, 1996, appellant learned that Analiza filed a case of rape against him. After his arrest, Analiza and Analyn visited him at the municipal jail where Analiza allegedly divulged that she filed the case against him at the insistence of Margarita.

Analyn corroborated his defense. She related that appellant was always by her side when they made copra.[11] On August 17, 1996, while they were taking a respite from work, Analiza gave her a letter disclosing that she was no longer a virgin and that the man who deflowered her was a certain Bady.[12] The letter reads:

“Dangay,

“Ate maniwala ka sana dito. Pero isa lang ang pakiusap ko sa iyo huwag mong sasabihin kay kuya Eri dahil baka ako ay mapatay. Ate ang una ngang gumamit sa akin ay si Bady nga. Pero saka ko na lang sasabihin sa iyong mag-asawa kung sino yon. Siguro hindi pa panahon ngayon. Siya nga pala ate yong gumamit na iyon sa akin ay nandito lang sa tabi-tabi. Alam mo ate, tsismis na kami dito sa buong San Andres Labak. Ate yun nga pala ay tatlo silang magkakasama pero isang (sic) lang ang pumanhik dito sa bahay yun pa nga ay ayaw kung papanhikin kaya ay itinulak ang pinto (sic).

“Ate pasinsiya (sic) ka na sa sulat kong barok kasi dali dali ako.

Ang nagsulat nito

Analiza (alyas) Ening[13]

Jaime Querante, who also corroborated appellants defense, recounted that once, while he was husking coconuts, he saw Analiza and Analyn arguing. Appellant was also present that time. Querante overheard that Analiza wanted to leave their house and told the spouses that they had no business meddling with her life.[14]

On rebuttal, Analiza denied having written a letter to Analyn. She reiterated that Analyn tried to convince her not to file a case against appellant. She added that Querantes testimony referred to an incident that transpired at Barangay Mangalayaan in August 1996. Querante was not with them in July when they worked at Barangay Montes Balaon.[15]

The trial court rejected the defense of the accused. It ruled that his denial cannot prevail over the positive and credible testimony of Analiza. It held that Analyn is not worthy of belief since she did not even verify the content of the letter allegedly sent to her by Analiza. It was unnatural for her not to show the slightest interest over such a serious matter. Her testimony was biased by her desire to free her husband from criminal liability. It also disbelieved the testimony of Querante since he could not have monitored every movement of the accused while he (Querante) was husking coconuts.

ISSUE:

THE TRIAL COURT ERRED IN NOT FINDING THAT THE PROSECUTION FAILED TO PROVE THE COMMISSION BY THE ACCUSED OF THE CRIME CHARGED IN THE INFORMATION.

RULING:

Appellant contends that before presenting Analiza, the prosecutor made the following offer of proof, viz.:

“PROSECUTOR MAGNO:

xxx [T]hat on or about the month of July, 1996, she (ANALIZA) is only fourteen (14) (sic) years old; and, she was then living with the accused, who is the live-in partner of the sister of the witness; and, while she was living in that house with the accused, she was sexually abused several times by the said accused, the last being this case now tried before this Honorable Court; and that she will prove all the allegations contained in the information and all the collateral matters, Your Honor.”[17]

Allegedly, Analiza testified that she was first raped by the appellant on the first week of July 1996 and the trial court convicted appellant for this first rape and not for the last rape committed on the same period. Allegedly too, the first rape was not charged in the Information.

This contention is unconvincing.

Rule 132, Sections 34, 35 and 36 of the Rules of Court, provide, viz.:

“Sec. 34. Offer of evidence. The court shall consider no evidence which has not been formally offered. The purpose for which the evidence is offered must be specified.”

“Sec. 35. When to make an offer. As regards the testimony of a witness, the offer must be made at the time the witness is called to testify.

xxx.”

“Sec. 36. Objection. Objection to evidence offered orally must be made immediately after offer is made.

xxx.”

To start with, a mere perusal of the information will show that appellant was charged with rape committed on or about the month of July 1996. The prosecution offered Analizas testimony to prove that she was sexually abused several times by the appellant on or about the month of July 1996.[18] The prosecutors statement that what was being tried was the last rape committed in July 1996 is an innocuous error that did not prejudice the rights of the appellant. The records show that Analiza testified that appellant raped her on the first and last week of July 1996 and Analiza was cross-examined on both incidents. The counsel for appellant did not object that Analiza cannot testify on the first rape as the prosecutor was presenting her only to prove the second rape in July 1996. Appellant therefore cannot complain of surprise. He was able to defend himself from the charge of the complainant.

People v. Vargas, G.R. No. 122765, October 13, 2003

FACTS:

Job Bieren, a laborer and a resident of Sto. Domingo, Barotac, Iloilo, had been dishonorably discharged from the Philippine Constabulary for being absent without going on official leave. At around 1:00 p.m. on January 4, 1992, he went to the basketball court located in the town plaza of Banate, Iloilo. He had earlier agreed to meet his friend Clark Batzar, for a game of basketball. Job waited for an hour or so, but Clark did not show up. Job decided to leave the place and proceeded to the house of Jose Vargas located at Zona Sur, Banate, Iloilo, to watch the daily double, an illegal local gambling game. He passed through the fence at the back door of the house, and arrived thereat at around 2:30 p.m.[2] Among the people in the house were Edgardo Dodoy Vargas, who had been appointed as Commander of the Civilian Volunteers Organization by his cousin Mayor Jonathan Sanico, and SPO1 Alfredo Dan Cocjin, who had just been transferred from the Banate to the Barotac Viejo Police Station.

Job gravitated to the balcony while waiting for the games to start. Suddenly, there was a commotion and pandemonium ensued. People fled from the house. Job saw Edgardo[3] as the latter collared SPO1 Cocjin with his left arm and with his right hand pointed a pistol at the policemans right temple. Job was about five meters away. Edgardo dragged SPO1 Cocjin away from the house, through a narrow passageway leading to the national highway. Edgardo then shot SPO1 Cocjin in the head. Edgardo stepped away from the fallen victim, and fired another shot, hitting SPO1 Cocjin at the back. Warlito Buloy Bagcal, who was outside the fence asked Edgardo, Doy, nga-a gin tira mo gid si Dan? (Doy, why did you shoot Dan?).[4] Edgardo saw Job, and the latter was petrified. Job hurriedly left the place, passing through the back way.

Dr. Rustum Larawan, a resident of Barangay Poblacion, Banate, Iloilo, reported the shooting incident to the Banate Police Station. Police investigators arrived at the scene of the incident and conducted an on-the-spot investigation. SPO3 Dominador Badinas, Jr. made a sketch of the crime scene, showing the victim lying on the edge of the national highway, face up, about 93 feet away from the bamboo fence fronting the house of Jose Vargas. SPO3 Badinas, Jr. saw a trail of bloodstains, from the bamboo fence leading to the narrow passageway at the edge of the highway.[5] Pictures of the crime scene were also taken.[6] Despite proddings from the police investigators, no one came forward to give any details about the identity of the perpetrator or the circumstances surrounding the shooting. The shooting incident was thereafter entered in the police blotter.[7]

Job opted not to report the shooting incident to the police authorities or to the NBI because he did not want to be involved. Job also felt that Edgardo knew very influential people, including Mayor Sanico. However, in August of 1992, Job had a change of heart and decided to reveal what he knew about the shooting incident to the police authorities of Sta. Barbara, Iloilo.

On August 2, 1992, Job arrived at the Office of the Investigation Section of 324th PNP Mobile Field Force Company, District II, Brgy. San Sebastian, Sta. Barbara, Iloilo, and disclosed what he knew about the killing of SPO1 Cocjin on January 4, 1992.[9] He gave a sworn statement to SPO3 Dwight Maluda, identifying Edgardo as the assailant.

An Information for murder was filed against Edgardo.

During the arraignment, Edgardo, assisted by counsel, pleaded not guilty to the charge.

On February 10, 1995, the trial court rendered judgment, finding the appellant guilty beyond reasonable doubt of the crime charged. 

ISSUE:

I. THE HON. TRIAL COURT ERRED TO APPRECIATE THE TESTIMONY OF THE POLICE INVESTIGATOR AND BELIEVE THE TESTIMONY OF A PLANTED WITNESS OF THE PROSECUTION.

RULING:

The appellants contention that the public prosecutor failed to offer Jobs testimony as mandated by Section 35, Rule 132 of the Revised Rules of Court is belied by the records. The rule adverted to reads:

SEC. 35. When to make offer. As regards the testimony of a witness, the offer must be made at the time the witness is called to testify. . . .

The party calling a witness must give a gist of the proposed testimony to enable the court and the adverse party to determine its relevancy to the issues at hand.[25]

The transcript of the stenographic notes taken when Job testified show that the public prosecutor indeed offered Jobs testimony, thus:

Interpreter: Please state your name, age, civil status, residence and occupation.

Witness: Job Bieren, thirty-four (34) years old, married, a laborer, resident of Sto. Domingo, Barotac Viejo, Iloilo.

Fiscal Cabalum: I would like to present the testimony of this witness being an eyewitness considering that he was an eyewitness to the killing of the victim SPO1 Alfredo Dan Cocjin by the accused sometime on January 4, 1992, at Brgy. Zona Sur, Banate, Iloilo.[26]

The appellant did not object to Jobs testimony when the public prosecutor offered it. Instead, the appellant cross-examined the witness The appellant did not protest when the prosecutor faultily offered its documentary and physical evidence and rested its case. The appellant even offered testimonial evidence to controvert Jobs testimony. It is now too late in the day for the appellant to assail, for the first time in this Court, the public prosecutors failure to offer the testimony of a witness before direct examination.[27]Job can hardly, if at all, be classified as a planted witness. The fact is that his testimony is corroborated by the physical evidence on record. Dr. Ricardo H. Jabonetas necropsy report shows that the victim sustained two gunshot wounds. He found powder burns on the body of the victim. Job testified that he heard a gunshot and saw the appellant pointing a pistol on the victims right temple with his right hand. He saw the appellant shoot the victim anew at the back, after the victim was dragged from the bamboo fence of Jose Vargas house to the edge of the highway. Indeed, the victim was found sprawled on the edge of the national highway. The policemen found a trail of bloodstains along the narrow passageway, to the edge of the road.This corroborates the testimony of Job, that the gunshot he heard coming from the highway was a second shot. The appellant must have already shot the victim before Job saw the appellant with his gun pointed at the victims head. Job even quoted Warlito Bagcal asking the appellant: Doy, why did you shoot Dan? There is no evidence on record that Job nurtured any ill motive to prevaricate and falsely testify that Warlito Bagcal was at the situs criminis. The presumption is that Job was not so actuated; hence, his testimony must be given credence and full probative weight.

Republic v. Go, G.R. No. 168288, January 25, 2017

Facts: Respondent Harold Tio Go (Go) filed an application for original registration of title in 1999.  His application covered two (2) parcels of land located in Liloan, Cebu,

The Republic filed an opposition to the application on the grounds that: (1) Go or his predecessors-in-interest have not been in open, continuous, exclusive and notorious possession of the property since June 12, 1945 or prior thereto; (2) Go failed to adduce evidence showing bona fide acquisition of the land applied for; (3) the claim of ownership can no longer be availed of by Go since he failed to file an application within six months from February 16, 1976 as required by Presidential Decree No. 892; and (4) the parcels of land applied for belong to a portion of the public domain. Despite its written opposition, the Republic failed to appear during the initial hearing of the case.

After reception of Go’s evidence, the RTC granted his application

The Republic appealed the RTC decision on the ground that the trial court erred in granting Go’s application in the absence of proof that the land applied for is within alienable and disposable land of the public domain. CA denied the appeal. taking into account the Community Environment and Natural Resources Office (CENRO) Certification dated issued by CENR Officer Elpidio R. Palaca (Palaca), which was attached to Go’s appellee’s brief.

The certification stated, in part:

This is to certify that per projection conducted by Forester Anastacio C. Cabalejo, a tract of land, Lot No. 281, PLS 823, containing an area of TWO THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED SIXTY[-]FIVE (2,465) [sq m], more or less situated at Tayud, Liloan, Cebu as shown and described in the plan at the back hereof, x x x was found to be within the Alienable and Disposable Land, Land Classification Project 29 Per map 1391 of Liloan, Cebu FAO 4-537 dated July 31, 1940.

The CA concluded that Go’s submission of the certificate “settles the issue on whether or not the subject lots in this case are alienable and disposable in the affirmative.”

ISSUE: whether the CA committed a reversible error in admitting the CENRO Certification as it was not adduced and marked as evidence during the trial, and consequently not formally offered and admitted by the trial court, in violation of Rule 132, Section 34 of the Rules of Court

Ruling: NO, the rule is that the court shall consider no evidence which has not been formally offered. The Court, however, in the interest of justice, allowed in certain cases the belated submission on appeal of a Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) or CENRO Certification as proof that a land is already alienable and disposable land of the public domain. Thus, in Victoria v. Republic of the Philippines, 16 the Court admitted the DENR Certification, which was submitted by therein petitioner only on appeal to the CA. The Court reversed the CA decision and reinstated the judgment of the Metropolitan Trial Court of Taguig, which granted therein petitioner’s application for registration of title to a 1,729-sq-m lot in Bambang, Taguig City. The Court stated:

The rules of procedure being mere tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice, the Court is empowered to suspend their application to a particular case when its rigid application tends to frustrate rather than promote the ends of justice. Denying the application for registration now on the ground of failure to present proof of the status of the land before the trial court and allowing Victoria to re-file her application would merely unnecessarily duplicate the entire process, cause additional expense and add to the number of cases that courts must resolve. It would be more prudent to recognize the DENR Certification and resolve the matter now. 17 (Citation omitted and emphasis ours)

Meanwhile, in Spouses Llanes v. Republic of the Philippines, 18 the Court accepted the corrected CENRO Certification even though it was submitted by the Spouses Llanes only during the appeal in the CA. The Court ruled:

If the Court strictly applies the aforequoted provision of law [Section 34, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court on Offer of Evidence], it would simply pronounce that the [CA] could not have admitted the corrected CENRO Certification because it was not formally offered as evidence before the MCTC during the trial stage. Nevertheless, since the determination of the true date when the subject property became alienable and disposable is material to the resolution of this case, it behooves this Court, in the interest of substantial justice, fairness, and equity, to consider the corrected CENRO Certification even though it was only presented during the appeal to the [CA]. Since rules of procedure are mere tools designed to facilitate the attainment of justice, it is well recognized that the Court is empowered to suspend its rules or to exempt a particular case from the application of a general rule, when the rigid application thereof tends to frustrate rather than promote the ends of justice. 19 (Citation omitted and emphasis ours)

Clearly, therefore, the CA took the prudent action in admitting the CENRO Certification, albeit belatedly submitted, as it would be more in keeping with the ends of substantial justice.

Westmont Investment Corporation v. Francia, Jr., G.R. No. 194128, December 7, 2011

Facts:

Sometime in 1999, Amos Francia was enticed by Ms. Lalaine Alcaraz, the bank manager of Westmont Bank, to make an investment with Wincorp, the banks financial investment arm, as it was offering interest rates that were 3% to 5% higher than regular bank interest rates. Due to the promise of a good return of investment, he was convinced to invest. He even invited his sister, Cecilia Zamora and his brother, Benjamin Francia, to join him. Eventually, they placed their investment in the amounts of ₱1,420,352.72 and ₱2,522,745.34 with Wincorp in consideration of a net interest rate of 11% over a 43-day spread. Thereafter, Wincorp, through Westmont Bank, issued Official Receipt Nos. 470844[13] and 470845,[14] both dated January 27, 2000, evidencing the said transactions.

When the 43-day placement matured, the Francias wanted to retire their investments but they were told that Wincorp had no funds. Constrained, they demanded from Pearlbank their investments. There were several attempts to settle the case, but all proved futile.

Amos P. Francia, Jr., Cecilia Zamora and Benjamin Francia (the Francias) filed a Complaint for Collection of Sum of Money and Damages arising from their investments against petitioner Westmont Investment Corporation (Wincorp) and respondent Pearlbank Securities Inc. (Pearlbank) before the RTC.

After all the exhibits of the Francias were admitted for the purposes they were offered, the Francias rested their case.

Thereafter, the case was set for the presentation of the defense evidence of Wincorp. On March 7, 2003, three (3) days before the scheduled hearing, Wincorp filed a written motion to postpone the hearing on even date, as its witness, Antonio T. Ong, was unavailable because he had to attend a congressional hearing. Wincorps substitute witness, Atty. Nemesio Briones, was likewise unavailable due to a previous commitment in the Securities and Exchange Commission.

The RTC denied Wincorps Motion to Postpone and considered it to have waived its right to present evidence.[

Pearlbank filed its Demurrer to Evidence. Which the court granted.  the RTC rendered a decision[25] in favor of the Francias and held Wincorp solely liable to them.

Wincorp appealed. But was denied.

CA states that Section 34, Rule 132 of the Rules on Evidence states that:

The court shall consider no evidence which has not been formally offered. The purpose for which the evidence is offered must be specified.

A formal offer is necessary because judges are mandated to rest their findings of facts and their judgment only and strictly upon the evidence offered by the parties at the trial. Its function is to enable the trial judge to know the purpose or purposes for which the proponent is presenting the evidence. On the other hand, this allows opposing parties to examine the evidence and object to its admissibility. Moreover, it facilitates review as the appellate court will not be required to review documents not previously scrutinized by the trial court. Evidence not formally offered during the trial can not be used for or against a party litigant. Neither may it be taken into account on appeal.

The rule on formal offer of evidence is not a trivial matter. Failure to make a formal offer within a considerable period of time shall be deemed a waiver to submit it. Consequently, any evidence that has not been offered shall be excluded and rejected.

Prescinding therefrom, the very glaring conclusion is that all the documents attached in the motion for reconsideration of the decision of the trial court and all the documents attached in the defendant-appellants brief filed by defendant-appellant Wincorp cannot be given any probative weight or credit for the sole reason that the said documents were not formally offered as evidence in the trial court because to consider them at this stage will deny the other parties the right to rebut them.

Issue: whether or not the CA is correct in finding Wincorp solely liable to pay the Francias the amount of ₱3,984,062.47 plus interest of 11% per annum.

Ruling: YES,

It bears stressing too that all the documents attached by Wincorp to its pleadings before the CA cannot be given any weight or evidentiary value for the sole reason that, as correctly observed by the CA, these documents were not formally offered as evidence in the trial court. To consider them now would deny the other parties the right to examine and rebut them. Section 34, Rule 132 of the Rules of Court provides:

Section 34. Offer of evidence The court shall consider no evidence which has not been formally offered. The purpose for which the evidence is offered must be specified.

The offer of evidence is necessary because it is the duty of the court to rest its findings of fact and its judgment only and strictly upon the evidence offered by the parties. Unless and until admitted by the court in evidence for the purpose or purposes for which such document is offered, the same is merely a scrap of paper barren of probative weight.[40]

The Court cannot, likewise, disturb the findings of the RTC and the CA as to the evidence presented by the Francias. It is elementary that objection to evidence must be made after evidence is formally offered.[41] It appears that Wincorp was given ample opportunity to file its Comment/Objection to the formal offer of evidence of the Francias but it chose not to file any

Parel v. Prudencio, G.R. No. 146556, April 19, 2006

FACTS: Simeon Prudencio filed a complaint for recovery of possession and damages against Danilo Parel with the RTC Baguio.

Prudencio is claiming that he is the owner of a two storey residential house.

He also claims that the house was constructed in 1972-1975 from his own funds and declared in his name in a tax declaration and that he has been paying the taxes on it ever since Assessor’s assessment of the property all in respondent’s name since tax declarations are not conclusive proof of ownership.

In 1973, when the 2nd floor of the house was already habitable, he allowed Parel’s parents to live there and supervise the construction below. When the house was finished, the Parel family was allowed to live there since they have no house of their own.

Parel’s dad, Florentino, now deceased, was Prudencio’s wife’s younger brother. Prudencio wrote Florentino a notice for them to vacate the said house as the former was due for retirement and he needed the place. Danilo’s parents heeded this when they migrated to US, however, Danilo and his family unlawfully entered and took possession of the ground floor of the house; and refused to leave despite many demands

So Prudencio filed an action for recovery of possession, and also asked from Parel for a monthly rental (3k) from April 1988 until he leaves the premises, plus moral and exemplary damages and costs. It rejected the affidavit executed by Florentino declaring the house as owned by respondent saying that the affidavit should be read in its entirety to determine the purpose of its execution; that it was executed because of an advisement addressed to the late Florentino by the City Treasurer concerning the property’s tax assessment and Florentino, thought then that it should be the respondent who should pay the taxes; and that the affidavit cannot be accepted for being hearsay.

From this decision, Prudencio appealed, decision reversed by CA, declaring him the sole owner. The CA found that since petitioner failed to formally offer in evidence any documentary evidence, there is nothing to refute the evidence offered by respondent.

It ruled that the TC’s statement that defendants’ occupancy of the house is due to a SPA executed by his parents is wanting of any concrete evidence on record; that said power of attorney was never offered, hence, could not be referred to as petitioner’s evidence to support his claim; that except for the bare testimonies of Candelario Regua, the carpenter-foreman, that it was Florentino who constructed the house and Corazon Garcia, the former barangay captain, who testified that the lot was allocated to petitioner’s father, there was no supporting document which would sufficiently establish factual bases for the trial court’s conclusion; and that the rule on offer of evidence is mandatory.

Parel filed his Answer with Counterclaim alleging that his parents are co-owners of the house (ground floor to Parel, 2nd floor to Prudencio), and that his parents spent their own resources in improving the house and that the construction workers were hired by Florentino, and that Florentino was an awardee of the land on which the house stands.

He also claims that Prudencio had filed ejectment case as well as criminal cases against them involving the subject house, which were all dismissed.

Parel asked for the dismissal of the complaint and prayed for damages and attorney’s fees. RTC declared that the house is co-owned by Parel and Prudencio, so Prudencio cannot evict Parel. Parel was also ordered to pay moral and actual damages, atty.’s fees, and costs.

RTC concluded that the land was allocated to Florentino as part of a program of the former mayor of Baguio (Lardizabal) to allow lowly-paid gov’t workers to construct their own houses on the reservation; that Prudencio failed to show proof of any contract, written or oral, express or implied, that the late Florentino and his family stayed on the house not as co-owners but as mere lessees, nor any other proof that would clearly establish his sole ownership of the house; and, that the late Florentino was the one who gathered the laborers for the construction of the house and paid their salaries. Thus, the RTC ruled that co-ownership existed between respondent and petitioner’s father, Florentino.

From this, RTC concluded that Florentino and Prudencio had an agreement that Florentino would contribute money for the construction and once the house is completed, hati sila. RTC also questioned that Prudencio only claimed sole-ownership after 15 years. RTC did not give credence to the tax declaration as well as the several documents showing the City

The CA found the affidavit dated Sep. 24, 1973 of Florentino, petitioner’s father, stating that he is not the owner of the subject house but respondent, as conclusive proof of respondent’s sole ownership of the subject house as it is a declaration made by Florentino against his interest. It also gave weight to Prudencio’s tax declarations as sufficient to establish his case which constitute at least proof that the holder has a claim of title over the property. Parel filed an MFR, denied.

ISSUE: Whether or not it was necessary to formally offer Parel’s documentary evidence.

HELD: YES. Parel cited Bravo vs. Borja to support his claim that the rule that the court shall consider no evidence which has not been formally offered is not absolute, and that his evidence, though not formally offered were marked as exhibits in the presentation of testimonies of petitioner’s witnesses, and were part of the testimonies, and also that the evidence were part of a memorandum filed before the court.

SECTION 34 of RULE 132 of the Rules of Court provides: Offer of evidence. – The court shall consider no evidence which has not been formally offered. The purpose for which the evidence is offered must be specified.

A formal offer is necessary because it is the duty of a judge to rest his findings of facts and his judgment only and strictly upon the evidence offered by the parties to the suit. It is a settled rule that the mere fact that a particular document is identified and marked as an exhibit does not mean that it has thereby already been offered as part of the evidence of a party

Parel cannot rely on the Bravo case because there, the court allowed evidence on minority by admitting the certified true copy of the birth certificate attached to a motion for bail even if it was not formally offered in evidence, because it was properly filed in support of a motion for bail to prove petitioner’s minority which was never challenged by the prosecution and it already formed part of the records of the case.

The rule referred to in the Bravo case was Section 7 of Rule 133 of the Rules of Court, not Section 34 of Rule 132 of the Rules of Court which is the one applicable to the present case.

Even if the documentary evidence would be considered, the evidence showing that the cases filed by Prudencio were dismissed, and the SPA of Parel’s parents did not establish co-ownership.

The construction worker’s testimony that Florentino was the one who hired him, and the barangay captain’s allegation that he was allocated a lot does not overcome Florentino’s own affidavit naming Prudencio as owner of the house.

The fact that not one of the witnesses saw respondent during the construction of the said house does not establish that petitioner’s father and respondent co-owned the house.